Trump administration sending 1.8M rapid tests to Missouri

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — President Donald Trump's administration on Monday announced it's sending 1.8 million rapid coronavirus tests to Missouri.

The tests can identify COVID-19 in as little as 15 minutes, according to a release from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Around 1 million of the tests have been shipped as of Monday, according to the agency, though there's no current timetable for when the rest will be mailed.

Republican Gov. Mike Parson's administration told the agency that it plans to use about 60% of the tests on K-12 school testing. Another 30% will go to colleges and universities, and 10% will be saved for other uses.

The announcement of the rapid tests being delivered to Missouri comes as confirmed cases of COVID-19 continue to increase across the state. State health officials reported 171,022 newly confirmed cases Monday, an increase of 1,527 from Sunday. Between Oct. 17-23, the state had 11,095 new cases, an average of 1,585 a day, according to state data. Missouri has recorded 2,810 deaths since the pandemic began, five more than on Sunday.

The state is also asking some popular social media influencers from Missouri to promote social distancing, handwashing and wearing masks on behalf of Parson, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Monday.

Those who agree to participate will not be paid, said Maggie Kost, a spokeswoman for the Department of Economic Development.

“The ask is pretty simple; we would like their help encouraging Missourians to take basic precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and get us all back to the things we love,” Kost said.

TikTok star Nickolas Ray, a Missouri native with 1.7 million followers, and Jenna Fischer, an actress from Missouri with 3.1 million Instagram followers, have been asked to participate. Other possibilities include former St. Louis Cardinals star Ozzie Smith and Kansas City Royals Manager Mike Matheny, Kost said.